Ruth Bedell says she was once “terrified” of the water.
These days, the 70-year-old relishes skimming over its surface, working in concert with other Dragonboat enthusiasts.
Bedell also has a dream — one of building upon a Dragonboat team in Fort Langley for women in the 70-plus age group.
The foundation of the ‘D-Fyance’ crew has already been laid, albeit with a trio of local paddlers between the ages of 60 and 62.
But Bedell’s long-term goal is to fill as many Dragonboat seats as possible with female paddlers aged 70 and older.
The challenge, said Bedell, is that “it’s hard to find 70-year-old women who want to Dragonboat.”
The team, as it stands now, has eight women who are 70 and older, the oldest of whom is 73.
More than a decade ago, Bedell was a Dragonboat rookie, and had to overcome a great fear to get into a boating seat.
She quickly conquered her fear.
“I love the water, I love being out there,” she said. “It’s been a huge challenge for me. I don’t swim, and I was terrified of the water when I started. (Now) I love the camaraderie, the fun that we have,” Bedell said.
Bedell has been Dragonboating for 12 years, starting at Cultus Lake before moving over to the Fort Langley Canoe Club and their home waters along the Bedford Channel.
“I’ve been on about five or six different teams with Fort Langley,” she said.
Moving forward, Bedell’s ultimate goal is to form a full senior D (70-plus) crew.
“Right now, internationally, there is no senior D division,” Bedell said.
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Bedell said the message to local seniors thinking about trying Dragonboating for the first time is, “No matter what your age, you can be out there and (be) physical and exercise, and get out on the boat.”
One local crew member, Barbara Coddington, has undergone hip joint and knee joint replacement surgeries and needs help to get in the boat, but she “is the life of the team,” Bedell noted.
“I’m the one full of parts,” said Coddington, who has been involved in Dragonboating for the past 10 years.
“I just want to get on that water. It keeps me moving, keeps me young, and it’s great for socializing.”
And, Bedell said, there is another team member who is waiting for hip joint replacement surgery and still gets out on the water to paddle.
Fort Langley’s senior D crew is guided by Ben Lee, who Bedell describes as “an excellent coach.”
No experience is necessary, and any potential paddler ages 66 and older who want to get involved are asked to call Bedell at 604-888-4591.